Cut through the noise
Meetings that lack participation can be awkward and uncomfortable—such as those characterized by the leader who asks a question and when he gets no responses, quickly fills the void with “OK, well here is what I was thinking….” At the opposite extreme, meetings in which participants dominate, ramble, negate everything, introduce tangents, or “participate” in other counterproductive ways can be as or even more painful to experience.
Yes, you want participation—but not all participation is created equally. If you expect people to automatically participate productively in response to “I’d like to have everyone’s participation today,” you will likely be disappointed. Instead, use this 4-step process:
Shift your mindset. If you are responsible for developing teams’ skills, change the definition of your role from “creating learning events” to that of “building development continuums.” When you do, you will be able to enhance learning outcomes and regain lost training time. Building a development continuum requires designing a complete learning solution—one that prepares learners for the core course, provides multiple touchpoints to the body of content, integrates on-the-job application, provides support to learners after the core event, and taps into the frequently overlooked role played by learners’ managers.
When you receive requests for the same training in half the time, I’ll suggest that you focus on the donut—not the hole (unrealistic expectations, limited resources, misguided requests, and so on). Even small shifts count when moving the finish line on these requests. Focus less on how far the line gets moved and more on moving it. This will build momentum for bigger shifts on future projects.
Have you ever committed to do something for a friend only to have it slip your mind? Then, days or weeks later, a passing comment, commercial, or other trigger reminds you of it? And, even though you had every intention of following through, without the trigger it wouldn’t have happened?
Learners experience the same phenomenon—even in the best-case scenario, in which they appreciate the learning opportunity, arrive motivated, value the course material, and intend to use it. When they return to work, they get hit by all that transpired while they were in training and often lose sight of their implementation plans. Learning boosters can refocus them on their action plans and implementation strategies.
Be careful what you wish for! Using a virtual collaboration platform that allows for bi-directional audio and supports webcams may sound like the ideal option. Let’s call this Level Three. In a Level Three scenario, you will want to give thoughtful consideration to how you will integrate the remaining two actions – before your session begins…
Don’t be fooled into thinking the platform will magically create engagement in your virtual presentations – engagement is your responsibility. The available tools can help. But, they can also hurt when you are unfamiliar with them, unskilled at using them, or don’t leverage the advantages they provide.
This week, we look at Level Two: collaborating over a virtual platform but still using unidirectional audio.
As little as three percent of your presentation tools are available to you in a virtual delivery. How is it that virtual presentations are up against such a disadvantage? Because nonverbal communication accounts for up to 97% of your message, and your audience likely won’t be looking at you. Webcam, you say? Read on… In this three-part series, I’ll share simple, yet powerful strategies you can use the next time you collaborate virtually, regardless of how robust your platform is – or isn’t.
Level One: you have a phone, and not much else.
Which learning strategies provide the greatest return with limited training time? Which engage learners, but also enable personal reflection? Cause learners to work hard, but also play with purpose? Allow learners to fail in a safe setting, but also set learners up for success? These are not conflicting opposites. They are the mix of learning strategies that provide the greatest return in a limited amount of time—and, frankly, in any amount of time. How does an instructional designer remain true to these tenets?
It isn’t easy to create effective learning events. If it were easy, there would be little need for instructional designers—everyone would build their own learning events. So, your Word of the Day is andragogy, which was popularized by Malcolm Knowles in The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species (Knowles 1984).
What do you already know of andragogy?
Do you recognize this post’s title as lyrics from Darius Ruker’s “For The First Time”? Maybe you are even in singing it in your head right now. I often sing the line to myself – mostly for the encouragement it provides me.
Personally, I want to live a life in which I have a quick and recent answer to “when was the last time you did something for the first time?” They don’t have to be grand-adventure-type answers, but they do need to provide me with new experiences, memories, or perspectives. Possibly even take me in new directions.